Kyle Kelly, an Owen County native, is the director of government affairs and association services for the Agribusiness Association of Kentucky and the Kentucky Propane Gas Association. These are affiliate organizations of the Kentucky Retail Federation, headquartered in Frankfort.
Kyle grew up on a small cattle and tobacco farm that is still owned by his family. Farming encouraged him to be a part of his high school FFA, an experience that altered his life.
“FFA was a great experience and it is where I learned to speak in public, and I began learning about agriculture and advocacy,” said Kyle. “FFA led me to meet new people, and it molded me into who I am today.”
It was his schooling at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, however, that further peaked his interest in agriculture advocacy. Kyle settled on studying Community, Communications and Leadership Development with a minor in Agriculture Economics.
“Drew Graham and Savannah Robin taught an advocacy class where I heard from industry experts,” said Kyle. “Growing up, I always thought I would farm, but then I realized how much of an impact people have on the legislative process.”
By way of his coursework, Kyle was able to make many professional connections, which helped him land working experience. He interned with the Kentucky Farm Bureau Organizational Division one summer, and worked with the Young Farmer and Institute for Young Agricultural Leaders (IFAL) programs. Kyle’s work with these programs grew his network even further.
Upon graduation, he worked for the James Comer for Governor and Ryan Quarles for Commissioner of Agriculture campaigns. Once Quarles was sworn into office, Kyle worked as his assistant for several months. In July, Kyle was hired into his current role.
Kyle encourages young people to keep an open mind when thinking about their careers.
“It is great to know what you want to do at a young age, but always learn and meet new people,” Kyle said. “Nothing can replace the people you will meet and creating relationships. It goes a long way.”
Kyle also encourages internships within the industry and to have a strong work ethic.
One thing Kyle suggests to other young people considering this career path is to take additional agriculture classes such as plant science and animal science.
“I think it is important to be more well-rounded and learn the entire agriculture sector,” said Kyle. “Once you get basic knowledge, you never know what you may be interested in.”